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Photographer: Kelbert McFarland Photography


Presidents' Day Part 2 (Mount Vernon + More)

Happy Presidents' Day! Today we are looking at the homes of the Washington family, going way back in time. We previously did this for Abraham Lincoln. As you probably know, Washington was a member of America's Colonial Planter Class in Virginia. His grandfather and great-grandfather were a Captain and a Colonel and members of the House of Burgesses (fun fact- this is what my last name Burgher means). Although these two men held and passed on the Mount Vernon property as was the custom of the landed gentry, George is the one who really loved developing the land and the house which came to be Mount Vernon. Before coming to Virginia, his great-grandfather John Washington lived in Tring, Hertfordshire, England. His father was Rev. Lawrence Washington, heir to the ancestral home of the Washingtons, Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire (below).

From Discover Britain

Following are some of the interior of Sulgrave Manor. First is the Great Hall. Discover Britain notes that you can see the spice cabinet, a sign of great wealth those times. This room has been kept in the style it would have been before the Washingtons came to America.

Next is the Oak Parlor, which is decorated in the 18th Century style as it would have been after the Washingtons were in the Colonies. Personal side note- we love 18th century style. We are pretty sure that our only 18th century architecture in Texas is The Alamo and some other missions, but my (Ginny's) husband grew up in an 18th century house in New York so I love going to visit our family there and visiting other houses in the region. The paneling is always so well done and fire places are huge. I think my husband is very good at making fires because of tending to all the large fireplaces- we actually don't have a fireplace in the house we are renting from the 1930s but we do have a fire pit in the backyard. We also love the use of brass in the 18th century and we always stock our online antiques and vintage shop with brass because of this. I began collecting brass candlesticks when registering for my wedding and received some beautiful reproductions, which my mother-in-law confirmed were stylistically accurate as she is an expert in this due to owning a historic house. We plan to use hundreds of brass candlesticks at our daughter/sister's wedding in November on the tables so we are continuing to collect and it is safe to say we will have a large stock in the shop next year.

The 18th century masterpiece is, of course, Mount Vernon. It is absolutely a place you have to visit if you have never been. We have been on several occasions but not for quite a few years, however it really sticks in your mind. Below is the iconic view of the estate.

From Washington.org

And here is a painting of the house by Edward Savage, painted sometime in the 1780s.

You can take a virtual tour on the Mount Vernon website which we sometimes like to look back at. The interiors give perfect inspiration for a traditional house. The paint colors are so great and you can see every detail. So many of the things we use in our houses today and sell in our shop are there, for example, lithographs. Below is the dining room full of blue & white porcelain in true southern style.

Next is "The Blue Room." We each have a blue room or two in our houses, though nothing like this! For Elinor it is the master and a guest bedroom so this is a great inspirational image but for me it is just my bathroom. However, I will say I have gone through many redecorating phases but have not changed my blue & white bathroom in years- the main thing is my toile shower curtain which I bring with me everywhere and it is very easy to accent. You can get every single detail on the furnishings of each room on the Mount Vernon website.

Below are some details from the saloon now called the "New Room." This room is large enough to entertain a crowd and full of art. The sideboard shown here is classic 18th century John Aitken.

Lastly, we will show the study. Washington was said to have not allowed anyone into the study. He had a very social wife, Martha (whose house we will look at next), and needed a retreat to read in. Supposedly he used this room as his dressing room as well.

Martha Dandridge was born at Chestnut Grove Plantation in Virginia (below). Her father John came to America from England and also had a house in Williamsburg.

From Wikipedia

She married Daniel Custis before Washington as was common in times before modern medicine. The Custis family was one of the wealthiest in Virginia. Together they lived funnily enough at White House Plantation. Since John Adams was the first to live in The White House, it is cool that Martha lived at her own home named White House and that she and George Washington were actually married there. It is pictured below.

From Wikipedia

And that takes us from the Washington family's ancestral English home to the almost White House!